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Mark Fisher - Ithilien.png
General Information
Other namesArnen
LocationA narrow land between the river Anduin in the west and the mountains of Ephel Dúath in the east
DescriptionThe fair province of Gondor
RegionsNorth and South
Major townsEmyn Arnen, Henneth Annûn, Minas Ithil
People and History
InhabitantsPrimarily Gondorians (briefly inhabited by Silvan Elves in the Fourth Age)
EventsFall of Minas Ithil
GalleryImages of Ithilien
Ithilien (S, pron. [iˈθiljen]) was a region and fiefdom of Gondor.


[edit] Geography

Ted Nasmith - First Sight of Ithilien

Ithilien was the only part of Gondor on the eastern side of the Anduin, wedged in between the river and the Ephel Dúath. The northern border must have been around the Dead Marshes and its southern border was the river Poros. The region was further divided into North and South Ithilien (the division was made at or near the Cross-roads).

Irises, Anemones, Eglantine, lilies, water-lilies and Asphodel grew in Ithilien[1]. Lebethron[2] and Culumalda grew especially in the woods around the Field of Cormallen.[3][4]

[edit] History

[edit] Early History

Historians in Gondor believed that, in the First Age, the Woses reached the region and were the first to cross the Anduin (probably near Cair Andros).[5]

Old records preserved in Gondor indicate that the name Arnen was once used for the larger part of the region during the Second Age.[6] When Elendil and his sons founded the Realms in Exile, Ithilien took its name after his son, Isildur. Of old, its chief city was Minas Ithil, the Tower of the Moon. It was briefly captured by Sauron in S.A. 3429 but was restored. Ithilien was a fair and prosperous land during the Second Age and the first part of the Third Age when Gondor was strong and Mordor deserted.

[edit] Easterling Invasions

In T.A. 541 Easterlings invaded northern Ithilien and King Rómendacil I was killed .[7] Amon Dîn was used as a fortified outpost of Minas Tirith keeping watch over the passage into North Ithilien from Dagorlad and any attempt by enemies to cross the Anduin near Cair Andros.[8][9] The Tower of Cirith Ungol was also defending Ithilien from attacks from Sauron's remaining servants and stopped them from returning to Mordor, guarding the high pass over the Ephel Dúath. Gondor occupied the fortress until T.A. 1636 when the Great Plague killed large parts of the population. During the plague, most of the people of Osgiliath fled the city for the western dales or the woods of Ithilien.

After the disastrous Battle of the Plains in T.A. 1856, Ithilien was the only land east of the river Anduin to be occupied as the others were abandoned.

In T.A. 1899, Marhwini warned King Calimehtar that the Wainriders were plotting to raid Calenardhon over the Undeeps. Calimehtar, therefore, provoked the Wainriders out of Ithilien, and his horsemen, joined by a large éored led by Marhwini, drove the Wainriders back.[8]

In T.A. 1944, Wainriders from Rhûn made an alliance with the Haradrim, and a dual attack on Ithilien was launched. While the Wainriders assaulted Ithilien from the north, the armies of the Haradrim crossed the Poros and invaded South Ithilien. The Gondorian Captain Eärnil leading Gondor's inferior Southern Army, defeated the Haradrim, and then turned north, took the Wainriders into surprise and pushed many of them into the swamplands of the Dead Marshes.[10]

[edit] Deserting

When Minas Ithil was captured by Mordor in T.A. 2002 it was renamed Minas Morgul, the Tower of Black Sorcery, a place of dread, and the remaining Gondorians deserted Ithilien.[10]

During the Watchful Peace the lords of Morgul had secretly bred the Uruk-hai, and in T.A. 2475 these creatures assailed and overran Ithilien, captured Osgiliath. Boromir defeated the host of Morgul and regained Ithilien. However, from that time on no people dwelt in that region, and for Gondor, there was never full peace again until after the defeat of Sauron.[11]

In the days of Steward Túrin II Ithilien was infested by Mordor-orcs and more people fled west of the Anduin; only the hardest people remained. Túrin built secret refuges around Ithilien for his soldiers.[11]

In T.A. 2885, Ithilien was invaded in great strength of Haradrim from South Gondor. With the aid of King Folcwine of Rohan Túrin won a victory at the Crossings of Poros, though the princes Fastred and Folcred were slain.[7]

Ted Nasmith - Henneth Annun

The majority of the people of Ithilien fled across the Anduin to escape further attacks by Uruks from Mordor (T.A. 2901)[7], but Túrin still kept scouts there, operating out of secret locations such as Henneth Annûn. Sauron returned to Mordor in T.A. 2951, and the remaining people started abandoning the area, and those who stayed fled to regions such as Lossarnach when Mount Doom erupted in T.A. 2954.[11][7] Steward Ecthelion II constructed the Rammas Echor as part of the now necessary defenses of Gondor.[12] The descendants of the people who had dwelt in Ithilien, formed the corps of the Rangers of Ithilien.

[edit] War of the Ring

During the War of the Ring, in early March T.A. 3019, Faramir the son of the Steward Denethor, was leading the Rangers of Ithilien to ambush Haradrim who would pass through Ithilien. That same time, Gollum led Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee through Ithilien on their way to Cirith Ungol and into Mordor, and Faramir allowed them to continue when he was satisfied they were not agents of Sauron.

"Oliphaunt" by Alan Lee

When the Host of the West marched on the Morannon, Mablung and his troops discovered an ambush by Orcs and Easterlings that lay hid in Ithilien. The ambush was quickly turned.[13]

Angus McBride - Ambush

[edit] Later History

During the Fourth Age, Ithilien was ruled by the Princes of Ithilien, a line that started with Faramir and Éowyn, who became known as the White Lady of Ithilien. Minas Morgul was not repopulated. As the Prince of Ithilien, Faramir dwelt in a fair new house in Emyn Arnen, whose gardens devised by Legolas were renowned.[14]

After the fall of Sauron, around Fo.A. 20,[15] Legolas brought south Elves of Mirkwood, and they dwelt in Ithilien, and it became once again the fairest country in all the Westlands.[16] They stayed in Ithilien for "a hundred years of Men."[15] After King Aragorn died, Legolas sailed West, reportedly taking Gimli with him, and with them left numerous other Elves.[15][16]

[edit] Etymology

Ithilien is a Sindarin name meaning "land of the moon"[17] reflecting the name of its ruler, Isildur, and its capital Minas Ithil.

It has been suggested that the name consists of the elements Ithil ("moon") + the affix end.[18]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Journey to the Cross-Roads"
  3. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, pp. 625-6 (citing from the Unfinished index)
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names" (entry for mal-)
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Drúedain"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 42, July 2001, p. 17
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  8. 8.0 8.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"
  9. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 510
  10. 10.0 10.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", "The Stewards"
  12. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 546
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Black Gate Opens"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VII. The Heirs of Elendil"
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Field of Cormallen"
  16. 16.0 16.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Durin's Folk"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Unfinished index for The Lord of the Rings", in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 233
  18. Compound Sindarin Names in Middle-earth at (accessed 20 July 2011)